Category Archives: Indian Books

My Indian Reading List

Somehow I’ve managed to collect several Indian novels {otherwise known as Ladki-Lit} over the past few months.  I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to actually read these books.  I keep staring at them on my nightstand and think, “Maybe I’ll get to bed early tonight and have time to read a few chapters.”  Of course that never seems to happen!  Anyway, in case you’re interested, here are the books I’ll {hopefully} be reading soon{ish}…
A Golden Age (P.S.) • Tahmima Anam
Corner Shop • Roopa Farooki
No Deadline For Love • Manasi Vaidya
Ever read any of these?  Stay tuned for my take on them and also a giveaway or two!

Book Review: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

So, I was in a bargain shop the other day and was glancing through the books, when a bright book cover caught my eye.  I thought to myself, “Hey, that looks kind of Indian!”  I dug a little deeper (not an easy thing to do when you have a baby hanging on for dear life in one hand and balancing a purse on the other shoulder!)  Anyway, I found the book and flipped it over to check it out… sure enough the book jacket promised that it would be a tale of arranged marriages set smack in the middle of India.  The book was deeply discounted, which was too tempting, I took the risk and brought it home with me.

It didn’t sit on my shelf too long, I started reading it that night after Miss A went to bed.  It did not take long for me to get sucked into the plot.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is first in a light and fun series by Farahad Zama.  It is set in modern day India and tells the story of Mr. Ali, a newly retired man with too much time on his hands.  It is witty and funny at times and the characters are well developed.  Mr. Ali, a Muslim, decides to start a marriage bureau from his front verranda. He soon finds success and has more business than he can handle alone. Enter Aruna, a sweet Hindu girl with amazing organizational abilities, who becomes very valuable to Mr. & Mrs. Ali and the bureau.  Farahad Zama weaves in several characters who become customers of the marriage bureau.  Add in a tale of forbidden love and Mr. & Mrs. Ali’s own son who is a political activist (against their wishes) and lots of Indian culture, and you get a plot that makes for very entertaining reading!

What marks the sign of a good book?  I didn’t want to put it down, but at the same time I didn’t want it to end!  Thank goodness Mr. Zama has planned ahead and written 3 more installments in the series.  Although I found the first book in the series at a discount shop by chance, I’m planning to order the next installments in the series from Amazon – I want to find out what happens next!

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

1. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People (2009)

The Many Conditions of Love

2. The Many Conditions of Love (2009)

3. Not All Marriages are Made in Heaven (2010)

4. The Road to Happiness  (coming later in 2011)

Book Review: Once Upon A Timezone

It’s not too often that I get my hands on an Indian novel. But my mother-in-law in India was kind enough to send this book to me a few weeks ago. The book is called “Once Upon A Timezone” by Neelesh Misra. I was able to read it during our Christmas travels. If you are in an intercultural Indian relationship, you will find this book a fun read.
The plot of the book revolves around Neel Pandey: a middle class Indian guy, trying to figure out his destiny in life, and hoping that it leads him to the land of his dreams: America! After his visa is denied, he lands a job at a call center in New Delhi, and takes up a new identity: Neil Patterson. If he can’t live in America, the next best thing is getting paid to assume an American persona at work, including a fake accent. He is satisfied with his new life, until he begins a virtual romance with a customer. The only thing is, she doesn’t know his secret and she’s keeping a few of her own! The book follows their story that spans two continents and keeps you guessing until the end…
From nosey parents to far-fetched love stories, this book has it all! It was an enjoyable book. I wouldn’t recommend taking it too seriously or consider this a “resource” for an intercultural relationship, but it was entertaining to see how the author spun his exaggerated tale. If you’ve ever experienced “outsourced” love, this might be a book for you!
If you don’t have a friend or relative coming from India anytime soon, you can usually find a copy floating around online. has a few used copies up for sale right now.

Don’t Miss "The Story of India: Six Part Series"

If you’re like me, you missed out on the PBS premier of “The Story of India.” The debut of this six part mini series was last night (January 5th). My husband’s aunt watched it & told me about it, she really enjoyed it. I was sad that I missed the first part – but it looks like it will air again throughout the week. Check your local listings to be sure, but the next part is scheduled to air on Monday, January 12th.

In this lavishly illustrated companion to his BBC TV series, Michael Wood weaves a spellbinding narrative out of the 10,000-year history of India. Home today to more than a fifth of the world’s population, the subcontinent gave birth to the oldest and most influential civilization on Earth, to four world religions, and to the world’s largest democracy. Now, as India bids to become a global giant, Michael sets out to trace the roots of India’s present in the incredible riches of her past.

From the Khyber Pass and the Himalayas to the tropical jungles of India’s Deep South, this original and striking survey of Indian history provides vivid portraits of India’s regions and cultures, and new insights into some of history’s greatest figures: the Buddha and Ashoka, Samudragupta and Akbar the Great, Nehru and Gandhi. It explores the ways in which Indian ideas and inventions have shaped the history of the world, and shows how some of ancient India’s conclusions about the nature of civilization have lost none of their relevance for our own times.

PBS has a beautiful website set up with tons of interactive content. If you really like the series, you can buy the book or DVD as well.

I think it is important for those of us in intercultural Indian relationships to learn about the history of India. I can’t speak for other countries, but in America, our world history is quite limited in school! I want my kids to learn about both their American and Indian heritage. I’m looking forward to watching all 6 parts in this series!

Intercultural Marriage: Rajiv & Sonia Gandhi

In light of the recent elections in the USA, I am reminded of India’s colorful political history. If you do not know the story of Sonia Gandhi and her Indian family, you are missing out!
Sonia Gandhi was born in Italy in 1946. In 1964, she met and fell in love with Rajiv Gandhi (son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and grandson of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru). Sonia & Rajiv met in the UK, where they both were students.
Sonia and Rajiv were married in 1969. They lived and worked in India. Their two children, Rahul and Priyanka were born in the early 70s. Sonia acquired Indian citizenship after she had been married for 14 years.
She married into a very influential family on the Indian Political scene. Sadly, tragedy struck when her mother-in-law, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her own bodyguards in 1984. Sonia’s husband Rajiv, followed his mother’s footsteps and became the next Prime Minister of India (the 3rd from his family to achieve this position). Tragedy struck again, when Rajiv was also assassinated in 1991.
Following the death of her husband, Sonia refused to have any part in politics. But in 1998, she joined the effort to try to revive the Congress Party, and was soon elected as the President of her party. In 2004, Sonia lead her party to victory in the national elections, and despite much protest, she was the first foreigner to be eligible to become Prime Minister. She eventually declined the Post. However, she continues to be named among the world’s most powerful people by Forbes and Time magazines.
Sonia’s life story sounds like a movie, with many triumphs and tragedies. It is encouraging to know that India not only accepted her as a foreigner married to one of their “princes,” but embraced her in her own right. Although she remains a Roman Catholic, she has become Indian in many ways, she wears sarees, speaks Hindi and has raised her children in her adopted country. I find her story an inspiration! To read more about Sonia Gandhi, check out these books.

Indian: Deliciously Authentic Dishes

While my best source for Indian recipes has come from my Mother-in-Law & other Indian relatives, I have found an Indian cookbook that I love! It was given to me by my husband’s aunt and uncle. It is a beautiful book, cover to cover.

The recipes are basic and easy to follow – and so far, I’ve had good success with what I’ve tried. The ingredients are usually readily available in an urban area. Recipes come from all over India.

An added feature is that some of the recipes contain nutritional information and are indicated as “low-fat recipes,” which is very helpful in menu planning, plus there is a list of suppliers in the back of the book. The only thing that I don’t like about the book is that they don’t always use the Indian names for the dishes. They might call Biryani “Rice Layered with Chicken.” I suppose it must be catered towards Western cooks. But overall, it is my favorite Indian cookbook!

The recipes are easy to prepare, and for a non-Indian learning to cook Indian food, it has been a lifesaver. There are beautiful full-color photos of each dish and also of the step-by-step process. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to impress their Indian husband/wife, or in-laws! Click here to find a copy.

Meet MeeraMasi – Another Cool Language Aid

MeeraMasi is a company that focuses on introducing Indian language, traditions and culture through high-quality products, including books, audio CDs, DVDs, and interactive toys.  

MeeraMasi means Meera Aunty.  The idea for the company came about when two Indian sisters, who had immigrated to the USA, wanted to teach their kids the language and culture.  They called their new company MeeraMasi since they were hoping they books and products would help take the place of their beloved Aunties in India who would normally have helped teach their children Indian nursery rhymes.  They came up with picture books with Hindi nursery rhymes as well as English rhymes translated into Hindi.  The books include the Hindi script and English transliteration, and come with a CD so that non-Hindi speaking parents can get the right pronunciation! A big help for those of us in who are in intercultural Indian relationships.  

Some of their products include other Indian languages as well, including, Gujarati and Punjabi.  MeeraMasi even lets you become an “Ambassador” – by selling their products locally.  You could also host a MeeraMasi party or fundraiser to raise money for a non-profit organization.  Click here to visit the MeeraMasi website.  For other posts about learning Indian languages, click here.

Book Review: Gayatri Devi: A Princess Remembers

When DH and I returned to India this year for a visit, I picked up a copy of the book, A Princess Remembers, by Gayatri Devi. I have always been fascinated with “Princely India” – the period in history before Independence (1947) when much of the country was ruled by Maharajas. Gayatri Devi, Rajmata of Jaipur, is not only one of the most famous Maharanis in all of India, but she has been hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful women. She has lived an amazing life…

She was born in 1919 into royalty – her father ruled Cooch Behar, and her mother’s parents were the rulers of Baroda. She eventually married Sawai Man Singh II, the maharaja of Jaipur. Although she was his third wife, theirs was a love marriage. In her autobiography, she tells of her carefree childhood, how she fell in love with her husband and the many memorable events in her life. This book is an inspiration.

Personally, having had the chance to actually visit Jaipur and ride an elephant up to one of the places where the Maharaja lived helped the book come alive even more! Gayatri Devi has had many accomplishments in her lifetime, but what stood out to me was the way in which she handled herself with dignity and grace in every circumstance.

Click here if you are interested in finding out more about her life, locate a copy of her book, A Princess Remembers: Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur.

Or to find out more about Gayatri Devi’s life, click here.